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See: Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen

Take home a Hand of the Gods Medusa key in honor of the console closed beta launch

Hi-Rez’s turn-based strategy card game Hand of the Gods — you might recall it better as SMITE Tactics or even its internal name, Hotgods — formally launches closed beta on console today, arriving on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

“The​ ​beta​ ​for​ ​Hand​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Gods​ ​kicks​ ​off​ ​by​ ​offering​ ​special​ ​bundles​ ​for​ ​PlayStation​ ​Plus​ ​and​ ​Xbox​ ​Live Gold​ ​members–including​ ​FREE​ ​access​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Closed​ ​Beta​ ​for​ ​those​ ​members! Starting​ ​today,​ ​PlayStation​ ​Plus​ ​and​ ​Xbox​ ​Live​ ​Gold​ ​members​ ​can​ ​receive​ ​the​ ​Hand​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Gods promotional​ ​bundle​ ​for​ ​free!​ ​Each​ ​bundle​ ​features​ ​a​ ​unique​ ​Leader​ ​Skin​ ​and​ ​also​ ​includes​ ​an​ ​Exclusive Card​ ​Back​ ​and​ ​Player​ ​Icon.​ ​In​ ​addition,​ ​the​ ​bundle​ ​includes​ ​five​ ​Core​ ​Packs​ ​to​ ​give​ ​new​ ​players​ ​a​ ​jump start​ ​in​ ​building​ ​their​ ​decks.”

Want even more stuff? Hi-Rez has granted us codes for the Legendary Greek God Medusa, redeemable on either console (but not PC). Click the Mo button below (and prove you’re not a robot) to grab one of these keys!

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The MOP Up: Speedrunning World of Warcraft (October 15, 2017)

The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!

Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Project Gorgon, Star Trek Online, BlessSkyforgeWakfuRobloxWar ThunderAionElite: DangerousNew DawnTravianAstroneer, and World of Warcraft, all waiting for you after the break!

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Pantheon’s halflings are more like Peter Pan’s Lost Boys than Tolkien’s hobbits

The MOP team tricked me into taking this post. They promised me gnomes. They aren’t gnomes at all. They’re halflings!

We’re talking, of course, about Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, which this week released its October newsletter, the star of which is the newly revealed playable halflings. The Visionary Realms devs say the halfling will look familiar but not identical to what’s become a stock fantasy race.

“It was a real challenge to be sure, owing to how extensively the Halfling trope has been explored in popular culture,” Senior Concept Artist Jared Pullen says. “There are so many preconceived notions of what a halfling is, a good deal of which has been based largely on Tolkien’s Middle Earth Halflings; the Hobbits. The unique lore set in place by our talented writer and loremaster Justin Gerhart became the pivotal point of difference for us. While still being deep lovers of nature as one expects of this trope, Pantheon Halflings have a wild edge that sets them apart. They embrace a very literal and visceral affinity with nature, wearing furs and hides with plant and animal adornments both. As such they carry into the game with highly tribal design sensibilities, very different to the Halflings we’ve come to expect from books and film.”

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Brad McQuaid: MMO devs are ‘making the very, very early foundations of the Holodeck’

Pantheon and MMOs like it are bringing our dream future one step closer (or at least, Lt. Barclay’s dream future), Brad McQuaid suggests in a new interview this week. MMORPG veterans know McQuaid as a pioneer of the genre, first with EverQuest, then with the stalled and now sunsetted Vanguard, and now with the upcoming MMO Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen.

“I want to be immersed, I want to escape into a fantasy or sci-fi world. [MMO developers are] making the very, very early foundations of the Holodeck. Letting people recreate the 1930s or build new virtual worlds – that’s what MMOs are, they’re the genesis of that. Because they involve real people and that social aspect, because they’re so immersive – and will be even more so in the future, with VR coming – I lose myself in them. I don’t sit there thinking I’m playing a game; I’m really there. And that’s what interests me.”

McQuaid says the MMO is not dead and that he’s working to change that perception by catering to an “underserved” audience of virtual world gamers and “abandoned MMO fans.”

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Working As Intended: The best and worst of Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire (so far)

I’ve spent a chunk of the last week moving through the first part of Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire, finishing up the Crystal Oasis zone into which a character is deposited right off the airship. Obviously, it’s far too early to give a formal stamp of approval until I’m fully through it, but so far, I’m pleased with my purchase. Very pleased. I’m already pretty sure the expansion is update-of-the-year material for the genre. But it’ll take a few months to see how it fully meshes with the existing game, and while the same was true with Heart of Thorns, my urge to stop writing and go back into Elona for the next zone as I type this already tells me that PoF has delivered on at least its basic promises.

So while we let the community savor the game until a fully informed consensus is reached, I wanted to dash off some quick thoughts based on this first week of midcore casual play. Consider it a top 5, bottom 5 list as we dig into the very best additions to the game – and the things that still annoy me.

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SMITE’s Journey to Asgard, Hand of the Gods’ Hindu Pantheon, and The Caster reality show

It’s patch day in SMITE, as I remembered this morning when my husband logged in and saw the new “Belly Ache Ymir” skin. Our header above isn’t even big enough to show you the best part: the chocolate chip cookie codpiece. This game.

Anyhoo, Ymir is just one of the Norse gods getting love in today’s patch 4.18, Odyssey: Journey to Asgard, which also introduces new Norse quests and the Norse Conqueror achievement. As part of its ongoing “Project Olympus” overhaul, Hi-Rez is adding random player loadouts, turning off server rollup, and fixing other annoying parts of spectator mode. Check out the patch notes below, and then… hey, who wants an ice cream cone?

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Pantheon’s newsletter covers custom lighting, the perception system, and the state of the game

Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen’s latest newsletter heralds a state-of-the-game missive spread out over four pages of content. Visionary Realms notes that its Series A funding round allowed it to hire new staff, including a technical artist who’s been hard at work on lighting in the game and building out the studio’s own forks of Unity’s lighting systems.

“We aren’t happy to just run with default systems,” Technical Artist Bruno Rime says. “We’re creating something that is better suited to an MMO and, more specifically, suited to Pantheon.” He argues that lighting is critical not just for actually seeing but for immersive parts of the game, like its diurnal cycle.

“Our first implementation of the new system is a simple directional light setup — an image based ambient light that covers our physically based renderer scenes. The next stage is rolling out our own time of day system, which allows the lighting to become more dynamic. We’re writing our own shadow system to help cope with the restrictions of an MMO or in our case, the massive scenes.”

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Snag a Hand of the Gods: SMITE Tactics Norse pack from Hi-Rez and Massively OP in honor of its Steam launch today!

Hi-Rez’s turn-based strategy card game Hand of the Gods — you might recall it better as SMITE Tactics or even its internal name, Hotgods — is officially coming on Steam. Today, in fact: It arrives on the platform following patch elements much requested by players, says the studio, “including the refinement of Combat Logs and the new additions of Clans and a Deck Tracker.” Yesterday, we wrote about some of the new pantheons coming in the future too; the studio has further elaborated on new cards and the Japanese and Hindu pantheons.

In the meantime, however, we’ve got some free stuff for you courtesy of Hi-Rez: keys for the Norse starter pack:

“The Norse Starter Pack will grant the 3 Norse cards Dagaz, Gift of Munin, and Ratatoskr. These codes can be redeemed in-game and are for PC only. These codes can be redeemed only once per account, so if someone has already redeemed a code previously, they can’t redeem it again on the same account. (Note: This pantheon starter packs is different from the main starter pack in the Steam release that grants the Ra skin.)”

Click the Mo button below (and prove you’re not a robot) to grab one of these keys!

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PAX West 2017: Hand of the Gods’ Japanese pantheon and the possibility of 2v2

While the full Hi-Rez portfolio wasn’t in attendance at PAX West, Hand of the Gods was on-hand with a fan tournament as well as machines to introduce folks to the game. Devs were also available to discuss this tactical SMITE spinoff. I sat down with Lead designer Scott Lussier and Executive Producer and VP of Design Scott Zier to talk about the game’s name, its progress, the reception at the convention, and plans going forward.

In fact, one of the tidbits Lussier shared is that the Japanese pantheon is next on the list after Hindu is released later this month.

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Pantheon’s visionary perception system explained

You might have heard that Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen is being developed to reflect an older era of MMORPG design and to rethink many of the modern systems that we take for granted. One notable difference between Pantheon and current MMOs is that there will be absolutely no quest markers whatsoever.

Oh, there will be quests, don’t you worry about that. But finding and accessing these quests will be a game in itself. Depending on how players build their characters, they might or might not be able to identify potential quests as they venture through the game world. Factors such as a character’s insight and investigation skills, class, race, and faction standing all influence whether or not a particular quest will unlock. Yet if you’re part of a group and just one member can get that quest, he or she can share it to everyone else.

One fan and YouTuber, Vress, was so excited about the perception system that he made a video to explain how this functions and why it could be one of the more interesting parts of Pantheon. You can watch it after the jump!

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The Game Archaeologist: EverQuest Online Adventures

In the pantheon of SOE’s (now Daybreak) flagship EverQuest franchise, there used to be a whole family of MMOs gathered around the table every evening. There was Papa EverQuest, looking a little wrinkled and worn but also radiating fame and authority. Next to him was Mama EverQuest II, a powerful  matron of entertainment. And EverQuest Next used to be a twinkle in their eyes before it was extinguished.

Then, in the next room over was a cabinet. The cabinet was locked. Inside that cabinet used to be a weird abnormality that certainly looks like a member of the family, but one that hadn’t seen the light of day in quite some time. This member subsisted on the scraps of an aging console and the fading loyalty of fans, hoping against odds that one day he’d be allowed out for a stroll or something. His name was EverQuest Online Adventures, the EverQuest MMO nobody mentions.

EQOA was a strange abnormality in SOE’s lineup. While it was one of the very first console MMOs and heir to the EverQuest name, it was quickly eclipsed in both areas by other games and left alone. Yet, against all odds, it continued to operate on the PlayStation 2 for the better part of a decade before its lights were turned off. Today, let’s look at this interesting experiment and the small cult following it created.

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Path of Exile: The Fall of Oriath launches today

It’s the largest single-day release of new content since the game’s launch — and unlike a lot of expansions mentioned lately, it’s all free, free, free. Path of Exile: The Fall of Oriath launches today, bringing the game up to Patch 3.0.0 and vastly expanding the single-player campaign.

The expansion brings up the number of acts to a total of 10, adds a truckload of new skills and items, and introduces the pantheon system to make your character even more god-like.

“Best the ancient gods of Wraeclast in battle and you can claim a portion of their power,” the studio explained. “There are four major god powers and seven minor god powers to be claimed in The Fall of Oriath. You can have one major and one minor power active at a time, and can return to any town or hideout to change which powers are active at no cost.”

As you wait for your computer to download the 7.1 GB update and for the patch counter to tick down to 4 p.m. EDT, you can read up on the patch notes and re-watch the official trailer below!

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Path of Exile posts Fall of Oriath patch notes prior to Friday’s launch

Is this expansion week here at Massively OP or what? In just two days, Path of Exile will be rolling out its hotly anticipated Fall of Oriath pack to PC players (Xbox One folks are still waiting to hear about a release date).

While the waiting might be hard, at least there is a wall of patch notes to dig through in preparation of the big event. The tentpole of the expansion is its half-dozen additional acts, the new pantheon system, and the new help panel — but that’s by no means all there is.

“The Fall of Oriath is our largest content expansion ever,” the team said. “In addition to six new acts of content, it includes new skill and support gems, unique items, our new water renderer, improvements to world environments, the minimap, game performance, and much, much more!”

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